Jesus Revolution (A Review)

Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today by [Laurie, Greg, Vaughn, Ellen]

Jesus Revolution by Greg Laurie & Ellen Vaughn

Looking at our contemporary context many find themselves asking if anything can transform a drug-addled and sexually confused culture. In this book which recounts how a generation which was much like the current one saw a mighty work of God. In this book Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn provides readers an eyewitness account of the Jesus Movement of the 60s and 70s especially as in relation to Laurie, Chuck Smith, and Calvary Chapel in California.

Having not had a great familiarity with the Jesus Movement I have found this book to be both historically informative and encouraging. Like any revival in the history of the church there were extremes and at times false converts, but as is seen in this book there was lasting good that occurred as a result of that movement. As the authors note in their concluding chapter, “Revivals are unorganized, messy, and fraught with risks for those who are not wearing the full armor of God (p. 245).”

I hope other readers will be as encouraged by this book and see the need of revival in the church today. While revival, a genuine work of God, cannot be manufactured it is something we should all pray for.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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12 Faithful Men: A Review

12 Faithful Men edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson

Pastors can never have too much encouragement in the trenches of pastoral ministry. Encouragement is exactly what the contributors to this volume have provided for pastors.

Twelve contributors explore the example of twelve godly pastors who suffered disappointment and suffering in different ways in the midst of pastoral ministry and remained faithful to the end. Men who are faithful to the end are needed role models for those of us in ministry today as a great number seem to be disqualifying themselves early on through infidelity in the church or in the home. Most of those looked at in this volume are familiar names whose life stories many pastors are familiar with. Three individuals who were unknown to me were John Chavis African-American pastor who faced great difficulty due to 19th century racism, Ugandan martyr Jana Luwum, and Chinese pastor Wang Ming-Dao who suffered under communist oppression.

Christian biography, especially biography of faithful ministers, is a great encouragement for those in pastoral ministry. I would commend this book to pastors and ministry leaders as it is a great source of encouragement.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgion(A Review)

Susie by Ray Rhodes

Susie Spurgeon, one of the most influential women in church history, has been one of the most neglected in terms of Christian biography. This neglect has been remedied in Ray Rhodes’s masterfully research biography due to be released September 4, 2018. Ray has scoured over primary sources to provide as full of an understanding of her life and contributions as possible.

As author Ray Rhodes notes there is scant information on the first twenty years of her life. It is with the calling of her future husband as pastor of New Park Chapel in London that the reader really begins to know Susie. Rhodes sheds light on Susie’s initial impressions of her future as well as the progress of their courtship. Susie’s role as mother to twins Thomas and Charles also brings to attention the sacrifice that the family made arising from the vastness of Spurgeon’s ministry. One can imagine that if Susie had not been a devoted and godly mother they would have turned out very differently.  She shared in the sufferings of her husband as well as bearing her own physical sufferings that took a serious toll on her health. These sufferings proved to be what led her to pursue a ministry that she is greatly known for, providing books for impoverished pastors and missionaries. It is in books that Susie has greatest legacy not only in the ones given as a support for those in ministry but also those written by her.

For those who have appreciated the life and labors of C.H. Spurgeon this title is truly a treasure that has been unearthed. While many of Spurgeon’s biographers will give some information on Susie such as their courtship, her illness, and her book fund. None of them have put in the painstaking effort of researching her to such an extent where she comes alive on the page, which is exactly what Ray Rhodes has done in this work. I’d highly recommend this title because as with her husband’s life story hers is one that has much to teach us today.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

The Essential Jonathan Edwards : A Review

The Essential Jonathan Edwards by Owen Strachan and Douglas A. Sweeney

In 2010 the five-volume Essential Edwards was published by the authors of this volume. The authors have compiled much of that work into this present volume, making it much easier to access their previous work. If you’re just discovering Jonathan Edwards this book would be a great starting point to understand his life and his work as one of if not the greatest theologian America has ever produced.

This volume is divided into five sections following the same structure as the five-volume series published eight years ago. The first section provides a biographical overview of his life. The second explores the theme of beauty which was a common theme in his written works and sermons. The third section traces Edwards understanding of the good life. The fourth section addresses the nature of true Christianity as opposed to nominalism. The final section traces Edwards’s understanding of heaven and hell and how that understanding shaped his life and ministry.

This year will mark the 260th anniversary of Edwards’s passing and after all those years his works are still in print and still relevant today. Edwards served his day as a model pastor-theologian a dying breed in our day. His love of God and his commitment to sound doctrine and true godliness are evidenced not just in his writings but in his life work. If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards you won’t go wrong with reading this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards: A Review

A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards
Nathan A. FinnJeremy M. Kimble

Jonathan Edwards is considered the greatest theologian and philosopher America has produced, his writings have been in print since his life time, yet many can be daunted in where to start reading Edwards and how to read Edwards. This book helps to address both challenges.

This book draws on a wide range of church historians in addressing the major works of Edwards.  Each contributor helps the reader understand the background behind the writings of Edwards which is important for understanding Edwards’s thought. The contributions range from a general overview of how read Edwards by Dane Ortland to more specific overviews such as Nathan Finn’s chapter on Edwards autobiographical spiritual writings, Jeremy Kimble’s chapter on the revival writings, Michael McClenahan on justification, Gerald McDermott on Religious Affections, Rhys Bezzant on the Life of David Brainerd, Joe Rigney on Freedom of the Will, Robert Caldwell of Original Sin, History of the Works of Redemption by Sean Michael Lucas, Edwards’s Affectional Ethics by Paul Helm, and an appendix by a man who has does much to popular the work of Edwards today John Piper. Each of these provides valuable insight on the work of Edwards.

Personally I enjoyed most the chapter on the revival writings of Edwards as it provides great background information in regards to Edwards work as an apologist for the Great Awakening. I also enjoyed the chapter on The Life of David Brainerd a work that has had a profound impact on the history of Christian missions. If you’re looking at reading Edwards I would commend this book, if you’re wondering where you can find his works they are available in many print editions as well as here http://edwards.yale.edu/ .

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Puritans and Pastoring Episode 3: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine

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In the latest episode of Puritans and Pastoring I look at A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine a work exemplary of Puritan evangelism. Alleine like many of the luminaries of the Christian church passed away at an extremely early age dying at the age of 34, though dead his work still speaks today.

 

Puritans and Pastoring: Who were they and why study them?

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I have recorded the first episode of my new podcast Puritans and Pastoring. This first episode provides a brief look at who they were and why we should study them. Listen and let me know what topics you would like to hear about in future episodes.

Bearded Gospel Men: A Review

Bearded Gospel Men by Jared Brock and Aaron Alford

Beards have recently become popular, but as authors Jared Brock and Aaron Alford demonstrate in this book there is a long line of long bearded gospel men who can be looked to as examples of faithfulness.

The authors in this book 31 miniature biographies of bearded followers of Christ from a range of Christian traditions throughout the history of Christianity. Each chapter comes with reflection questions to help the reader better appreciate the legacy of the individuals addressed in the book. Each entry is well written and engaging and provides an introduction to historical figures that often go unnoticed in church history. Some might object to the wide range of traditions represented in this book from Catholic to Anabaptist and all points in between but that only helps to ensure that the book will have a wide range of readership.

What pleases me most about this book is that it packages church history in an accessible and interesting format that the average guy would be interested in reading. Young men living in a culture likes ours with so few heroes would do well to read this book and reflect on the legacy of the bearded gospel men who have helped shape the history of Christianity. I would commend this book to any man in my church, even the ones without beards.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 

Irenaeus of Lyons (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) -A Review

Irenaeus-by-Simonetta-Carr-1024x856

Irenaeus of Lyons (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

The best test of whether a children’s book is any good is whether children actually like it, this book has been tested and it has passed the test. I have spent the past week reading this book to my two boys (ages 4 and 5) at bed time reading a chapter a day.

Simonetta Carr does a good job of describing the historical context in which Irenaeus ministered and the challenges he faced. Given the current course of our society it is a good time to introduce young readers to courageous Christian leaders who faithfully ministered and contended for the truth during times of persecution. An added bonus is the extra facts given at the end of the book which helps give a better understanding for the Roman world.

I would encourage parents to get this book and read it along with their kids. While we might be tempted to shelter from the harsh realities of persecution that Christians have experienced in the past and do experience throughout the world we should teach them about examples of faithfulness which this book does.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.